Our friend Bob Senter is a funny man. He messaged us prior to our trip to Seattle asking if we too were joining in the “Hypothermia Festival,” aka the dash to the Pacific Northwest for Boat Show weekend. Bob is not only a fun and humorous friend, he is also “Lugger Bob,” the man, the myth, the legend behind Lugger engines. Have a question? Lugger Bob knows the answer. Have a problem? Lugger Bob will answer the call and help. Anytime. (It was wonderful to see Bob if ever so briefly. 😊)
And of course, we were going to Seattle with the intention to restart our Mexican tourist visas (they last 6 months) and to engage in all kinds of boatiness. As already documented, it was an odd feeling flying north. We shared a taxi to the airport with the Shanafelt family (N50 Noeta) and boarded the Alaska Airlines plane. Looking around the plane was reminiscent of the movie Lilo and Stitch, and how we used to look coming home from Mexico. Overly sunburned people with every kind of Puerto Vallarta t-shirt, little girls with braided hair, and tequila duty free bottles lamenting that their vacations were over. While we did have a bottle of tequila, there weren’t many other similarities between us and the other passengers. We weren’t leaving vacation, we were leaving our home. But also going home. Strange all around.
We landed in Seattle five hours later and I could not get over how fast that plane ride was. Afterall it took us almost three months to get to PV on Red Rover! Ha! Driving a car on I-5 at 60 mph was another head scratcher. The last time we drove a vehicle was in San Diego. And the speed! I believe people probably thought a blue hair was hugging the rail in the left lane… but it was Kevin. The weekend was a whirlwind. In fact, you’ll note that we don’t have a lot of photos to share in this part of the story… we were too busy having fun! Our friends Shawn and Elizabeth Krenke had agreed to take us in, and we met them that evening on their boat N43 MV Freedom in her slip at Elliott Bay Marina. As we walked down the dock in flip flops with the rain pouring down I began to remember why we left. Brrr….
We stayed up til 2 am (which was 4 am in PV) laughing and having fun. We miss those two. And Mr. Sully too. In the morning the chaos began with a trip to Fisheries Supply to pick up box after box of parts and pieces, both for us and for friends Larry and Gwen on N50 Miss Miranda, back in Mexico. That done we headed to Red Propeller, my former company. Walking up to ring the doorbell was a little surreal, and nerve wracking for some strange reason. Leaving the company I founded was hard. But after visiting with the team I felt only peace and happiness. They are in a good place and so am I. I miss the people but I have finally mentally moved onto my new life. Next up – haircuts all around. We were pretty shaggy to be back in the city – suntanned wayward waifs with super blonde, dry, long, unkept crazy hair. Boat hair don’t care? Except when in Seattle… We then spent the afternoon and early evening at Kevin’s company talking with his team, and his awesome GM Darren, without whom this adventure would not be possible. Finally we were off to the boat show! While we were only there for a few hours, seeing old friends and the people who have helped us make Red Rover what she is today was meaningful. So many thanks to Daniel at TimeZero and the team at Emerald Harbor. Red is feeling good!
After another fun evening of hilarity with Shawn and Elizabeth we were once again up at dawn to tackle the next day. Breakfast with my business partner Jim and his husband Jim was a highlight of the weekend. How could it not be? Picking up load after load of packages at our awesome mail service, Dockside Solutions, was like the Christmas we didn’t really have. What’s in that Amazon package? Oooh… a new tub of the lotion I don’t want to live without. Or, specialty dog treats. Or…new Olukai flip flops! What will Mexican customs say?? After picking up new contact lenses and visiting BevMo for some bourbon restocking it was time to simply hang out at MV Freedom and relax for a few hours before the Nordhavn NW party.
Every year Nordhavn Northwest hosts an awesome owner party during the boat show. This was definitely a catalyst to get our butts up to Seattle for this weekend. We were guaranteed to have fun and to enjoy seeing Nordy friends old and new. It is an annual gathering of the fam. And we were not going to miss it. Don Kohlmann, who heads up the NW office offered up that this year’s event would feature a make-your-own taco bar to honor the Taco Runners and the other Mexican Nordhavn owners. How fun! And thanks for the honor Don!
The evening was as always, a reminder of why we love this community. As has been documented in the past, Kevin and I don’t generally like parties. But we love a Nordhavn party. In fact, we didn’t even see each other for over an hour and a half because we were having so much fun chatting it up with the other owners. What amazing, interesting, down-to-earth, kind and good people. The community really is just that – a group of people who share common interests and really, a positive and adventurous outlook on life. I love every opportunity we have to be with our people.
Of course, we were again the last to leave. Oh not just us, but also Devin Zwick (NW Nordhavn sales), Greg Harmon (Harmon Marine) and Shawn and Elizabeth. Devin is always the last one at a party. With us. Hmmm. Just one of the reasons we like him. 😊
After another fun late night with the Krenke’s where we fired up the Nordhavn NAR video for further inspiration, we were back to SeaTac airport and back to Mexico. The dogs were crazy excited to see us, and we gave them lots of love and beach runs.
Now back in La Cruz we were itching to get moving again. We love La Cruz. But we were ready to push off and explore. We celebrated Kevin’s birthday quietly on the boat with great steaks, good wine and the dogs, and a few days later said “see you soon” to our friends and pointed the bow toward Mazatlan.
Leaving La Cruz we had a huge treat. RIGHT in front of us, a humpback whale jumped out of the water in a full breach. He must have been 100 feet in front of the boat. No warning, just an awesome show. And as we shrieked, he did it again, and again and again. Amazing. We’ll take that to be a whale goodbye.
Our 26 hour run to Mazatlan was pretty easy, as predicted by Rich, our weather guru with the magic fairy wand. The seas were calm, the night was still and it was beautiful. The only concern was once again the appearance of long line fishermen. Thin nets are attached to “buoys” which are mainly pop bottles with black string tied around them. They are hard to see and could foul the prop. Generally the appearance of a panga driving at top speed toward us with people frantically waving is a first sign that we’re about to run into a long line. Again, the panga drivers were helpful, showing us to the end of their lines and helping us to navigate without entanglement.
At night, we watched the slow ballet of the many shrimpers with their bright lights, moving at about 2.3 knots closer to shore. I sat at the helm and wondered how many shrimp are really out in the ocean? Is it simply full of crustaceans? Must be.
The morning brought us to Mazatlan and a harbor entrance that we had heard many stories about. Shallow depths. Breaking swell. A dredger in the middle of it all. What fun!
I called the marina on the VHF radio as we approached the outer breakwater, which was difficult to discern. The marina responded that they would stop the dredger for 10 minutes only, to allow us passage. She reiterated, 10 minutes. After 10 minutes it will start again… and it is in the middle of the entrance. Fantastic. Kevin gave Red some serious throttle and we bolted (ah but Nordhavns don’t bolt, we meandered a little faster) toward the entrance.
As we made our final approach, the calm seas somehow mustered up some bigger swells to add to our fun. The swells came up under Red and thrust her forward, ever faster toward rocks and breaking waves. In the midst of this ride, we had to make a sharp turn to port, around the edge of the breakwater and somehow stay in the middle of the channel until… whoops, there is the dredger! The dredger, while not in operation, was sitting smack dab in the heart of the channel and we needed to slow the momentum from the swells and the sharp turn and run tightly between the machinery and a forbidding jetty. Good times. As I stood on the bow and tried to calmly say “go to port, go to port, go to port NOW” Kevin fought with the current and the confused momentum of the boat. A tourist watched idly from his lawn chair nearby. Can’t he see that this is difficult? Apparently not.
While sweating profusely, we managed to find our slip and pull in, noting that the depth was a bit concerning. El Cid marina is attached to a lovely resort with two beautiful pools, nicely kept grounds, restaurants, a coffee shop, a few trinket stores and a beach club. The first thing we saw after our exciting entrance was a sign on the dock gate with a dog and a big red slash through it. No dogs? What? I gave the office a call and told them that we would not be staying if they had a no dog rule. They asked us to simply come to the office where they would explain. The team at El Cid is very nice and welcoming. But they don’t really want dogs on the property. They are ok with boat dogs in theory but we were stopped to have dog rules explained to us multiple times. This was a first in Mexico, where our dogs have been welcomed everywhere.
We ended up only spending two nights at El Cid. The dog deal was a third of the reason. The second issue for us was that we could have been in the US or Canada at an all-inclusive resort for mature gringo couples. It didn’t feel like Mexico. There was bingo and dart contests and guided exercise classes in the pool, and a buffet. Now this is awesome for some people, and I can see why some would enjoy it all – particularly if you were on vacation, but it was not our scene. There was also a ton of surge. Red was bucking like a bronco at the dock, pulling on her 1 inch lines with all of her might. The sum of the parts was…. time to leave.
We moved further into the harbor to Mazatlan Marina, a place without many amenities but with calm water and locally owned small restaurants along the harbor’s edge. It isn’t fancy, but… And with that move, here comes a funny story. We first saw Red (then named Insignia) in the spring of 2016, and she was in Mazatlan Marina. In the same exact slip that we were assigned upon arrival! Crazy and full circle for sure!
Now that we were settled, it was time to explore! We love discovering new places and while we had been to Mazatlan before, we were distracted by our purchase of a new boat! We spent eight days in Mazatlan. A highlight would definitely be exploring the downtown, El Centro. The community has lovingly maintained and restored its historic core, and wandering its streets is delightful. We ate some wonderful meals, wandered the city’s central market (which was amazing), visited the stunning cathedral and appreciated the care with which the downtown was presented to both its residents and its visitors.
The central market is incredible with small mom and pop stands selling everything from lunch to mops and brooms to onions to pig heads. And everything in between! It is a Super Walmart long before there was such a thing, with a local and fresh feel.
As in any city… we experienced some road work. This is a team fixing a road. Cobble by cobble. Amazing.
The next pictures show a cool brewery we stopped at. El Centro has a number of young proprietor hipster destinations popping up next to the long established restaurants, bars and galleries. Pretty cool.
Mazatlan has these crazy cars called Pulmonias. They are only found in Mazatlan and are basically open air taxis with kick-butt stereo systems and fun and playful drivers. I LOVE them. Kevin is certain we are going to die when riding in one. My typing here today is proof that we lived. Pulmonias are basically over-sized custom golf cart bodies sitting on Volkswagen frames and engines. They are named Pulmonias after an early rider of one of the vehicles noted that you would “get pneumonia” from riding in them. Pulmonia is the Spanish word for pneumonia. Too fun!
While we were in Mazatlan we experienced all kinds of weather, from rainy cold days to sunny and warm days to our first “Norther” where winds sweep down from the Sea of Cortez, building sea heights as they go. The dogs didn’t particularly care, as we could walk to the beach and they could run, and run, and run and run….
After a bit of relaxing in Mazatlan we started looking for our next weather window to cross back over to the Baja for our spring exploration of the Sea of Cortez. After some consultation with Weatherman Rich we determined that Saturday, February 8 would be our day to set out for a little 26 hour ride to Muertos, just south of La Paz. We did some provisioning, prepped some meals for the run, battened down the hatches and pointed the bow back toward that marina entrance. Thankfully leaving was far easier than entering, and we were off!
The crossing to Mazatlan was beautiful with easy seas, sparkling sunshine, a stunning moon, nighttime dolphin visits and more. And we caught a fish!! While we do a fair amount of fishing on Red Rover, we haven’t quite mastered catching. Maybe the fish don’t like us? Thankfully a beautiful Dorado caught up with our lure and Kevin successfully brought it on board! Dorado (also known as Mahi Mahi) is soooo delicious!
About halfway between Mazatlan and Muertos we were super excited to experience hours of sea turtle sightings. We think we likely saw over 100 of the curious creatures who lifted their heads to look at us as we passed. I called them all Yertle. “Hola Yertle!” we would shout as we played a giant game of Frogger, taking a slalom course through these gorgeous critters who were basking in the sun at the surface of the water.
We adjusted our “watch schedule” a bit for this crossing. When we have friends and crew accompanying us on longer trips we have a definite watch schedule. When it is just the two of us things are a bit more fluid. On our last overnight from La Cruz I had a hard time getting to sleep. So… we tried something new. Kevin took a “rest” after dinner until 9:30 or 10. I then went to sleep until 2 when Kevin woke me up to take over. At about 6:30 am he heard me running around making coffee and came to join me in the pilothouse. We enjoyed yet another gorgeous sunrise and sipped our caffeine happily as we approached Muertos.
Muertos is an anchorage on the Baja peninsula, about 55 nm south of La Paz. A stunning small hotel sits at one end of its sugar sand beach and dunes and a local palapa restaurant and a boat launch sit at the other end. When we arrived it was perfectly still and we could easily see the bottom of the bay and myriads of tropical fish that call this bay home. After a dog run on the beach, Kevin cleaned up the Dorado for dinner for the next night. As he was hard at work on the swim step, our friends Jeremy and Hilda on N76 Seacret came cruising into the bay, arriving after a 48 hour run from La Cruz. Along with Tracy and John from Pairadice, we all met on shore and enjoyed a delightful dinner at the palapa. Dinner with six people who had been up at all hours the night(s) prior came early and we were all off to bed not long after sunset.
February 10, our 18th wedding anniversary, arrived at sunrise the next day and with fresh baked bluberry muffins in the oven, we were off to the Sea of Cortez! We’ll save that for our next story though.